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Sampo & Erhardt

Sci-Fi Archives

Visit our archives of the MST3K pages previously hosted by the Sci-Fi Channel's SCIFI.COM.

Goodbye Sci-Fi

Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett reflect on MST3K's final broadcast.

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Episode guide: 305- Stranded In Space

Movie: (1973) Unsuccessful TV pilot about an astronaut who finds himself on a mirror-Earth, where the shadowy, oppressive “Perfect Order” rules.

First shown: 6/29/91
Opening: Joel has turned Crow and Tom into a shooting gallery
Invention exchange: The shooting gallery is now in Apple Dumpling Gang mode; both Joel and the Mads show off variations of the “BANG!” gun
Host segment 1: Crow and Tom fight over their trading cards until Joel intervenes; he then shows off his “kids in court” trading cards
Host segment 2: Tom’s baking cookies; Crow tells him about a nightmare that reminds Tom of Ward E, and they discuss their personal visions of what Ward E is like
Host segment 3: Joel is a TV movie villain, the bots are his henchmen
End: Joel and Crow try to sell “Stranded in Space” to producer Tom; Joel reads a letter, the Mads are TV movie villains and Dr. F foresees a promotion for Frank
Stinger: Bettina strikes Stryker.
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (128 votes, average: 3.85 out of 5)


• I think Sampo’s Theorem is going to be in full force here, because, frankly, I’m not a big fan of this one, which means that I’m sure somebody will come forward to express their undying love for it. For me, the biggest problem is that the movie is as drab as a sinkful of dishwater. There’s very little for the riffers to grab on to (though of course there are some great moments as always). All the host segments are worth a smile or two, but nothing is outstanding. A classic “meh” episode.
• This one’s not on DVD.
• Joel explains the premise, this time adding some details we’ve never heard before, nor will ever hear again. He says, “As you can tell by the opening the Mads made…” and also says the Mads “sell the results to cable TV.” The show seldom makes that much effort to explain itself.
• To wake the bots up, Joel throws glittery confetti. What is he, the Harlem Globetrotters? (Alternately, Rip Taylor.)
• Watch the plunger on the TNT prop as Frank presses down. They keep going. JEF!!
• Callbacks: Two uses of “hikeeba” (Women of the Prehistoric Planet) and several uses of “No!!!” (Cave Dwellers). Also: two references to Sidehackers: “The most dramatic confrontation since Rommel met JC” and “that’s pretty good!”
• Before FVI got hold of it, this was called “The Stranger.” In their re-edit, they used clips from a movie called “Prisoners of the Lost Universe” during the credits sequence (RiffTrax would riff it in 2012).
• My copy is from March of 1995, the “Play MSTie for Me” era. The OJ trial was in full swing and Comedy Central runs one of its “Just Say No J” promos twice.
• Movie observation: You can see why this never went to series. His only way off the planet is via the Terra version of NASA. How many space launches are there? The guy says they have an active space program, but still. How likely is he to be able to sneak aboard a flight? If the plan they concoct in this episode failed, is some other plan likely to work better? It’s an unworkable premise is what I’m saying.
• Dated riff: Joel and Tom both mention “Photomat.” The once-ubiquitous film developing retail chain is now long dead, put out of business by digital technolgy.
• Instant catchphrase: “People used to laugh more then…the were concerts in the park…”
• Again, the order of segments isn’t quite right: They’ve mentioned Ward E by the time we get to segment 2, but they haven’t shown it to us yet.
• Tibby makes a return appearance in segment 3!
• What’s “People’s Road 94?” I’m guessing it’s a Minnesota joke. Google is silent.
• At the end of the movie, a character introduces himself as “Tom Nelson” and Tom says “MIKE Nelson.” That must have been baffling to viewers in 1991.
• In the ending segment, Tom says “letter latey.” They keep going.
• Dr. F mentions Gizmonic Institute during the closer. First time in a long while.
• I always mix this one up in my mind with “Space Travelers.” Both are such bland names and besides the astronauts in the other movie are more stranded in space than Stryker is, so…
• Cast/crew roundup: Score composer Richard Markowitz did the same for “The Magic Sword.” Actor H.M. Wynant also appears in “Hangar 18.” Buck Young also appears in “Mitchell.” And, of course, Cameron Mitchell also appears as Captain Santa in “Space Mutiny.”
• CreditsWatch: A guy named Bob King came in to do audio for this episode and only this episode. Tim Scott is listed as “on-line editor” for this episode only. Jann Johnson and Alex Carr are listed as additional contributing writers. Trace and Frank are still “guest villians” (misspelled) and now Dr. F’s name is spelled “Forrestor.” This was Lisa Sheretz’ last episode as a contributing writer, and after this episode Colleen Henjum took three episodes off.
• Fave riff: “You’ll always be a little girl.” Honorable mention: “Sir, why aren’t the Landers sisters in this meeting?”

125 Replies to “Episode guide: 305- Stranded In Space”

  1. pondoscp says:

    I read in the ACEG that this was the episode no one remembered. I remember it well because this was my first episode.

    I discovered MST3K one Saturday morning twenty years ago (!), back in 1991. Comedy Central was a fairly new addition to my cable tv lineup. Previously, we had had the Ha! channel, but not The Comedy Channel. Based on the age of this episode, I was around 16/17 years old. Eating Lucky Charms out of the box, or some such cereal, flipping through the channels, I for some reason or another, left it on Comedy Central. I tuned in about 30 minutes in, around the time of host segment 1, where the bots have their trading card discussion. This really appealed to me, since I had been big into trading cards, especially those of a non sports nature. (Talk about a psychic lawn dart, and they caught me with it right off the bat.) I remember thinking, is this the premise of this show? Robots and trading cards? And I didn’t realize they were joking about the cards. (On a side note, some of the cards were real, others a joke. But nowadays you can find card sets of just about anything) The next thing that caught my attention was Joel talking about that’s where they shot Quincy episodes. I thought at the time, are they serious? Not knowing what I was watching still, I couldn’t tell if they we’re joking or not! Is this a kid’s show, or something more subversive? By the time they got to the “Next Time on …” jokes, I was laughing, and hooked. I liked this new program. It wasn’t until around late 1992 that I got hardcore into the show and wrote in. I was guilty of one of many generic “I would like to be a member of the MST3K fan club. Thank you” letters. The episode where they read that letter (can’t remember which that is right now) cracks me up, since I sent one just like it. Then I tuned in regular until I lost touch around 1995, mainly because my cable company started sharing the Comedy Central channel with VH1, with each network taking up half a day. Comedy Central in the morning, and VH1 at night, or maybe it was the other way around, hard to recall exactly. Then I remember hearing about the movie, then cancelled, then Sci-Fi…. That’s another story.

    I rediscovered MST about 4 years ago, and revisiting this one was a real treat.

    Anyway, this episode is very near and dear to me since it was my first. And what a weird first it is. A failed tv pilot, right up my alley.

    -They sell the results to cable tv. Joel revealing more of the setup of the show. And the glitter makes a reappearance!

    -The invention exchange is hilarious.

    -Bacon, bacon, bacon, …. bacon?

    -They killed Snuggles!

    -You’re not dealing with AT&T! (Well I AM NOW!!)

    -It’s Jamie Gumm! Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure this is the first of many “Silence Of The Lamb” jokes. Somebody must have seen the movie around then, and it stuck with them, because these jokes are prevalent for many episodes to come.

    -Now put the lotion on it’s skin! (that’s twice this episode)

    -Page 2! (The chimes Crow interprets as a read along book sound)

    -I’m looking for the new one, American Psycho?

    -Another Issac Asimov quip. Looks like those jokes weren’t entirely restricted to Season 1.

    -“…Nothing worth remembering…” Except The Beatles!

    -Crow’s dream in Host Segment 2 is wonderfully absurd. Ahh, Ward E. Sunday paper sitting in the sun too long. After many years of doing newspaper delivery, that’s Ward E for me. I know that smell all too well. Another psychic lawn dart for me.

    -Attention K-Mart shoppers, the blue light is flashing.

    -Having just got into Star Trek, it was a pleasant surprise to see the lead actor from this movie in an episode of Trek.

    -“We closed our eyes for a while, and when we reopened them…” Reagan was in office!

    -I had Jell-O today!

    -I’m here to put the lotion on it’s skin-Stop that! I think it’s cute!

    -My name is Luka and I live on the second floor.

    -I got no where else to go! I got nothing!

    -Time to put the lotion on it’s skin-(Joel tries to grab Crow)

    -Host Segment 3 brings back Tibby! I love the turtle necks.

    -Can’t wear costumes in the movie, it’s not allowed!

    -In the “I Should Really Just Relax” category, Servo makes many references to the ’70s in this episode. Years later, Servo would perform a song about the 70s, and then get flustered because people abbreviate the 1970s to just the ’70s. Um, Servo, you’re guilty of this too! In all seriousness though, no one expected the writers to constantly watch old episodes in order to find odd inconsistencies. I like to think of it in a fan-fic sort of way, 500 years can do a lot to a bot’s memory, just look at Crow!

    -The most dramatic confrontation since Rommell met JC! (Sidehackers callback!)

    -This is just like the end of Killdozer!

    -Here I am, stuck in a made for tv movie, with you

    -Rocky and Bullwinkle “Again!” riff that pre-dates “Fugitive Alien”

    -My brother lives in Florida! A riff that originated from this episode, will follow in several episodes to come. Always cracks me up.

    -Water, the source of all bad acting! This riff harkens back to the KTMA days, but you knew that

    -“The name’s Mitchell,” which made laugh, then Servo says “Mike Nelson.” A weird exchange.

    -Man, that’s a jarring music switch before the credits

    -Speaking of David Jansen in the last host segment, we’ll see him in “San Francisco International”

    I really hope this episode will be on an upcoming Shout! Factory box set in the not too distant future…


  2. Dan in WI says:

    Here we are five episodes into the third national season and Joel feels the need to explain the premise of the show. It’s been a while and really that was the first time this season it was done to this extent. Why wait this long if you are going to do it again?

    I first learned of this show in season four. So as I watch these episodes for these weekly discussions this is the first time I’ve ever watched them in sequence. I’ve seen many of these (but not all) before. But seeing them in sequence makes me realize that Mads stealing Joel’s inventions gag lasted well past the second season as I previously thought. But again this time it was a little different twist than the BGC-19. We get the dueling variation competition type of things as they try to top each other. I liked it.

    I have vague memories of seeing bits and pieces of this movie before. I vividly remember seeing the scene in the phone booth of Neil Stryker trying to call Cape Canaveral. But I don’t think I saw the whole film. According to Daddy-O this film is from 1973, which is the year I was born. So I obviously didn’t see its premiere. At any rate, this is the only MST film I’ve ever scene, even in part, on its own without the Bots.

    Crow: “Ya know I don’t think we should get wrapped up in these credits. I’m sure they have nothing to do with the movie.” So they are beginning to catch on to the FVI switcheroo credits. This time the credits come from “Prisoners of the Lost Universe.” Just like the last FVI film’s credits. I’ve seen Prisoners on Green Bay’s local light night horror host, Ned the Dead’s show. Once again that too would have been a great film to be MiSTied. It starred Richard Hatch of Battlestar Galactica fame.

    Speaking of bad 70’s(ish) TV sci-fi Tim O’Connor is in this film. You know it is too bad Buck Rogers never got the Space 1999 treatment. It would have made a good episode much in the same way K10 Cosmic Princess was.

    Joel tells the bots that costumes can’t be worn into the theater after the third host segment. There’s rule that will be broken time and again.

    So in this film Neil Stryker ends up on a mirror planet to Earth named Terra. In Gamera vs. Guiron, Tom and Akiyo end up on a mirror planet to Earth named Terra. Coincidence? Wait in the Gamera example it was a star named Terra.

    For my money, this is the best film since Death Flight SST. I’m not saying it is anything resembling a masterpiece. But it was good and held my interest. I could have easily watched it without the bots. That is something that I say about very few films that appears on our favorite cowtown puppet show.

    Hey Gizmonics Institute is mentioned by name in the closing segment. It’s been a while.

    Favorite Riffs:
    Doctor “How’s our number one patient.” Joel “Um, I just went number two sir.”

    During the boardroom briefing scene, Tom: “Do you know how many TV series would be wiped out if this room was blown up?”

    George Benedict: “before the perfect order.” Tom: “burgers, fries and a shake.”

    Stryker drops a book. Tom: “I thought that was a book you couldn’t put down.”

    Tom “Hey they’re getting some action. Wanna pull over Earl?”

    Crow “Did Terra just move for you?”

    Crow “Hey it’s Billy Barty all grown up.”

    Benedict’s sleeve is torn up. Crow: “Nothing up my sleeve.” Joel “Again?” (warm-up for Fugitive Alien 2 later this season)


  3. Colossus Prime says:

    I love these insanely simplistic plots that hinge on overly simple ideas being believed. A planet on the same orbital path as Earth just on the complete opposite side of the sun? Sure, that’s a completely believable sci-fi stapple. That it developed sociologically, economically, biologically the exact same way as Earth to the point where our hero lands on a section where they speak English? Yeaaaaaah… Oh, but EVERYONE is left handed. Oooooooooooo.


  4. Sitting Duck says:

    Even though Sampo may find this one “drab as a sinkful of dishwater”, it left enough of an impression that the name of a section of Satellite News alludes to it. Or was calling it Ward E Brian’s idea?

    I’ll agree that the riffing in this one is a trifle weak, but the movie itself IMO is actually fairly watchable. It’s only real crime is the icky veneer of Seventies-ness, which was kind of difficult to avoid in the Seventies.


  5. jjb3k says:

    People often insist that Segment 2 is out of order because we haven’t seen Ward E yet. But that’s kind of the point of the segment – they’ve mentioned Ward E in the film, but the bots don’t know what it is yet, so they’re speculating on what it feels like to be there. And I must add, the Brains’ observations on extremely uncomfortable everyday situations are all spot-on. I’ve gotten trash water on myself before and it’s not pleasant.


  6. I'm not a medium, I'm a petite says:

    strange one for me.. I knew this film pre-MST and even more-so I knew the original ( Doppelganager aka Journey to the Far Side of the Sun ). Doppleganger made a huge impression on my young mind when I saw it, and then this one came along and I was confused at it hurt and tastes like metal and stuff.

    This also kind of reminds me of Land Of The Giants.. where our guys land on a humanoid-infested English speaking earth-clone run by a mysterious totalitarian regime. In fact the only difference is that here everyone is the same size, and there’s only 1 of them.

    Sampo: I believe People’s Road 94 is meant to be the Red Chinese analogue of County Road 13.

    It is light on the riffing, in my opinion, but I’ve been below radar MST wise for a month or so, needs to get my eye in. Love the Silence of The Lamb riffs. Love Love the biggish Kraftwerk rif over the closing credits of the subject film ( see also discussion thread ). I think the low density riffing is a function of the film which may be drab as per Sampo, but does have some level of basic professionalism, at least for a TV movie.

    Invention exchange was pretty sweet…. and let’s have a shout for Don Martin…. SCHLUNK !

    Overall this was a quality episode, if indeed not a barn burner. I’ll give it a safe and sane 3.


  7. toot-tootoot-toot says:

    I actually like this episode- but don’t worry, Sampo, I’m not in love with it. Is it weird that I find the movie watchable? I also find myself wondering what it would have been like if the network had picked it up as a series- I probably would have watched it but I’m strange like that I guess. Solid riffing, good-not-great. 3 out of 5.


  8. Never seen this one.


  9. Joseph Nebus says:

    By the way, the current storyline over in the comic strip Alley Oop, which by the way still exists, has the time-travelling caveman jaunting off to an Earth-2 on the far side of the sun.

    I haven’t seen Stranded In Space, so I don’t know how they addressed the fact that there can’t be a duplicate Earth on the far side of the Sun and we’ve known that for at least a century and a half that there isn’t one, but I would guess they handled it the same say Alley Oop did. (The writers don’t know why there can’t be so nobody mentions the problem.)


  10. John R. Ellis says:

    I remember recording this one on my VCR when it premiered, so long ago!

    People seemed to laugh more, then. There were concerts in the park…I was a woman, then.


    “Well, if it isn’t Little Miss I WON’T TELL A SOUL!”

    This episode was a huge favorite of my scouting buddies for a couple of years. They’d always ask to watch it if we were meeting at my home.

    Good times.


  11. Matt Sandwich says:

    “Bettina Cook. Bettina Cook. Bettina…. Cook, Doctor. Bettina Cook.”

    I wouldn’t argue that this episode is a classic, but it’s one that’s certainly grown on me over the years. To be fair, I always have a sneaking suspicion that ‘grown on me’ simply means that I watched it less over the years, so it feels comparatively fresh.

    I do find the movie sort of appealing, in spite of the presence of many a genre cliche. It’s dull and talky, and the 1984/cold-war allegory is heavy-handed, but it’s also surprisingly well-acted and I guess you could say it has the strength of its convictions, to put a charitable spin on it. And did I say the presence of many genre cliches? How about completely crammed with every conceivable plot convenience, twist, and contrivance from fifty years of sci-fi and suspense writing? I’m actually kind of stumped at the way that– in spite of that fact– it still manages to plod along and never really rise above being a competent sort of workhorse of a TV movie instead of an embarrassing howler. That’s a testament of some sort. It has a “low-key presence,” how’s that? But for that reason, there isn’t much to say about it.

    Aside from the movie itself, the riffing is fair-to-middlin’, and the sketches are pretty so-so, though the entertaining “henchmen” sketch is exactly the sort of post-modern take on pop culture that’s become utterly ubiquitous in the intervening years. I can’t remember who said it or where I saw it (Trace Beaulieu, maybe? ACEG?), but the idea that the show wouldn’t get much attention today because people have become so much more savvy and self-aware in their consumption fits to a tee here. They were way ahead of the curve of what’s become a generational hallmark– the Internet would probably have about 40% less content if you removed all pop culture-oriented snark.

    And I’m kind of fascinated with “People seemed to laugh a lot more in those days” as a catchphrase, especially compared to something like the over-the-top “It stinks!” It’s certainly a line that I’ve used over the years, and once it even elicited a response of “There were concerts in the park,” which was kind of thrilling (I’ve never really known many fans of the show, you see). Maybe the line is like the movie itself: it isn’t flashy, or egregiously bad, or overtly silly in spite of its would-be profundity. But its low-key sincerity serves it well. Of course, the line has taken on some unintentional poignancy now that the country has taken such a regrettable economic turn. People seemed to laugh a lot more in those days, indeed.


  12. underwoc says:

    For whatever reason, this episode always reminds me of Gene Roddenberry’s Genesis II/Planet Earth pilots…


  13. Tom Carberry says:

    I’ve only watched this episode a few times since I transferred my VHS copy over to DVD.
    The lines I remember best from this episode are:
    “oh, no, they put her in a room with Ike Turner!”
    “The Grandpa with the Golden Arm”.


  14. Brandon says:

    I agree with Sampo, and Frank. This episode really isn’t worth anyone’s time.

    305- Stranded in Space

    Host Segments:
    First shown: 6/29/91.
    Opening: Joel enjoys a shooting gallery.
    Invention exchange: Variations of the “BANG” gun.
    Host segment 1: Crow and Tom fight over their trading cards.
    Host segment 2: While baking cookies, J&TB discuss “Ward E.”
    Host segment 3: Joel is a TV movie villian, the bots are his henchmen.
    End: Trying to sell the movie, letter, the Mads are TV movie villians.
    Stinger: Stryker gets struck!

    Memorable riffs:
    Crow: “… and we ran out of oxygen two days ago.”

    Servo: “… and wetting.”

    Servo: “Oh no! They killed Snuggle!”

    Servo: “Hey look! They’re in the Brady house!”

    Fav. riff:
    Character in movie: “The perfect order…”
    Servo: “Burgers, fries, and a shake.”

    -Two Wizard of Oz references during the opening credits! Ray Bolger is also mentioned during the first scene.

    -Servo references the now-forgotten Trapper John series.

    -State Park joke: At one point Joel just randomly observes that the main character is running around the hospital barefoot.

    -During Segment 1, Joel mispronounces “Danny Bonaduce”.

    -This movie rivals “Women of the Prehistoric Planet” in having a totally misleading title.

    -Why would Servo need to wear a chef’s hat while cooking food? I know, I know…

    -Sampo thinks fans might have been baffled by Servo name dropping “Mike nelson” towards the end, but I think film buffs might have taken it as a Sea Hunt reference.

    Best segment: Not sure why, but the ending segment was VERY funny. Which means this episode seriously ended on a high note.

    Worst segment: The whole “Ward E” thing… I dunno.

    Overall: Frank Conniff calls this the most forgettable MST3K episode. I’d say I agree with him. This episode really isn’t too memorable.

    Rating: *1/2


  15. Creepygirl says:

    I too actually like this experiment. I don’t watch it that often, so I kind of see it as a “lost” episode. I pull this one out maybe once every five years or so. I keep forgetting how talkie and anticlamatic the story actually is. That scene between our Hero and Blonde Nurse Lady out at the local park was painfull. Like I said before, I do like this episode but it’s overall only a “meh”.

    I too give STRANDED IN SPACE 3*’s out of 5.


  16. Thomas K. Dye says:

    I find the movie vaguely watchable. One of the differences between the Conniff-populated MST and the non-Conniff-populated MST…. here, they make note of Cameron Mitchell’s presence. In “Space Mutiny” he was just “Santa,” as if they couldn’t care less who the actor was.

    The lead actor is so wooden, though… he’s really phoning it in, which is one reason why the film seems so dull. Even he can’t make you believe he’s on an alien planet that somehow looks a lot like Canoga Park. The other actors just hit their marks and say what’s expected. Lew Ayres is the only one putting any spark in his role, and even he’s restrained. It’s just really difficult to imagine that anyone cared about this film while they were making it. They had the time booked, everyone was hired… let’s just finish it. The general blah-ness might have made the pilot fail more than anything.

    As for what it would do when it went to series… well, he wouldn’t always have to be going home. Not every episode of Gilligan’s Island had to do with the castaways leaving the island. A lot of it could have been about evading the Perfect Order, helping other people in trouble, romances, etc… and the POSSIBILITY that an Earth ship might find him on Terra. Of course, describing it like that makes me think it’d be just as bland as the pilot was, so never mind.


  17. Kenneth Morgan says:

    I remember seeing this one long before MST got it. I think it was once a Saturday afternoon movie on Channel 5 in New York, back when they’d show Bowery Boys movies on Saturday mornings. Those were the days…

    I have to agree that this movie is pretty bland, but it’s not awful. As Frank wrote in the ACEG, it effectively fills the time slot. It’s pretty much the standard for ABC’s “Movie of the Week”, where ABC’s opening titles were sometimes better than the actual flicks.

    Obscure trivia note: unless I’m very much mistaken, the space capsule shots from the beginning are stock footage from “In Like Flint”. Can anyone confirm that?


  18. snowdog says:

    I’m surprised that so many folks find this movie watchable. It was pretty brutal imo. Endless scenes of middle aged men in drab suits standing around and talking. The riffing couldn’t save it for me. The invention exchange would have been funny if the props functioned properly. Not only does the plunger break in Frank’s hand, but they’re constantly having to shake the guns to make them operate. Definitely not one of my favorites.

    No mention of Tim O’Conner who would go on to play Dr. Huer in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century? Not one “biddy-biddy-biddy” joke? What’s up with that?


  19. Mr. B(ob) says:

    Some really good riffs for a really dull TV movie. I remember getting almost to the end of this episode when it first aired and then realizing I had seen the TV movie when it first aired when I was a kid! It was one weird flashback. No wonder I barely remembered having seen it, the movie is pretty unremarkable.

    I’m going to disagree that the show never went to series because the premise is unworkable though that statement certainly has merit. I think the more likely reason is another statement made by Sampo in the original topic at top, the movie is “dull as dishwater”. Can you imagine trying to make 24 episodes of year of that exciting each year? The only thing to recommend this movie besides the noble premise of reminding people of the dangers of totalitarianism is the fact that they got Lew Ayres to be in it. He was a fine actor and when he was much younger was in many excellent projects including the classic, “All Quiet On The Western Front”. It’s a shame that older actors have trouble getting good parts some times, forcing them to be in dull TV movies or worse or to not work at all.

    I gave this 4 stars because I remember howling at many of the riffs during this one, but it would never be on my favorites list of 5 star episodes.


  20. Cheapskate Crow says:

    I don’t remember a single thing about this episode and I have seen it previously. That’s not a good sign and I’m not seeing a whole lot here to recommend it. Guess I’ll get started on next week’s episode.


  21. Well, I was going to Florida, but I guess you don’t got one of those!


  22. monoceros4 says:

    This is an odd one, uncharacteristically forgettable for a Season 3 episode, although not as bad as Teenage Caveman. I’ll have to queue it up again. The main impression I’ve carried away from past viewing is annoyance at the leaden clumsiness of the script once the premise has been established. The bad guy, Benedict, does bad things…well, just because, half the time. For instance he suspects Dr. Revere of subversion and eventually tosses him in Ward E. Why? Just because. Conversely, Prof. McAuley is absurdly trusting and helpful to Corbett. As Matt Sandwich says, “completely crammed with every conceivable plot convenience, twist, and contrivance from fifty years of sci-fi and suspense writing”. It’s almost as bad as J. J. Abrams’s Star Trek script.

    That’s poor George Coulouris playing the old bookseller. He’s a long way down from getting jollied about by Orson Welles.


  23. John Ellis says:

    J.J. Abrams didn’t write the “Star Trek” script. That was Orci and Kurtzman of Michael Bay’s “Transformers” fame.


  24. monoceros4 says:

    That’s what I get for trying to save a few keystrokes.


  25. Tom Carberry says:

    “I think it would be fun to be in this movie”. I just couldn’t resist that one. #22, you are right–poor George Coulouris. Almost like Orson’s famous quote about his career (I’m paraphrasing) I started at the top and worked my way down.


  26. Cody Himes says:

    I decided over a year ago now to make my way through the series, starting with alternating the Season 1 and KTMA shows, and ending on DIABOLIK. I did it (yay), and after every episode, I’d read the corresponding ACEG entry. I watched this one and really thought it was funny. Frank described this one as being the most forgettable episode they’d done (up to Season 7 anyway), and I instantly disagreed with him.

    It’s been about a year since I saw this and I don’t remember a single riff. I’m sorry, Frank!


  27. big61al says:

    This is one of those episode I have only seen once. I remember seeing the movie on tv way back in the 70’s. Can’t remember anything except for something about a mirror. Suppose I need to dig this out and give it another go.


  28. monoceros4 says:

    #25: “Almost like Orson’s famous quote about his career (I’m paraphrasing) I started at the top and worked my way down.”

    It’s the other side of the Citizen Kane curse. For every Mercury Theater player who went on to some kind of successful career after Kane, like Agnes Moorehead, there were other actors like Coulouris and Everett Sloane who found themselves in a string of sadly undistinguished roles. Then there’s the case of William Alland….


  29. WeatherServo9 says:

    As others have said, I kind of like this one just for the movie. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that the premise is so weird for a TV show that I sort of feel like I have to watch just to see them try and pull it off. Someone decided (or was told) to combine space traveling science fiction with a lost-hero-trying-to-get-home-meets-wacky-people-along-the-way adventure with a 1984-type dystopia and make a low-budget TV show out of it. The hero is a bland, seemingly disinterested astronaut and the villains’ uniforms are government-mandated black turtlenecks with sport coats.

    I wonder about the pitch meeting for this. Was everyone in the room high? And then I wonder if what we’re seeing was even the original idea. If it wasn’t, how crazy must the original concept have been if this is the compromise they came up with? Sampo is selling these people short when he says that they probably couldn’t come up with too many more ways to get the hero back to Earth. A few doses of whatever they were using when they came up with the concept would have given them all kinds of ideas.

    This isn’t a great episode, but I’ll watch it just for the turtleneck-wearing villains. If that doesn’t scream dystopian society, I don’t know what does.


  30. Joey Stink Eye Smiles says:

    “because, frankly, I’m not a big fan of this one”

    You appear to say this about every third episode or so. Are you sure you’re a fan of the show? :)


  31. Cheapskate Crow says:

    @30: If he keeps saying that during season 4, then you’ll know the truth. I think seasons 3-5 were the best of the show, with 4 being the high point with nary a bad episode. Season 3 is hit or miss for me somewhat, it has some of my all time favorite episodes (Gamera, Amazing Colossal Man and sequel, Teenage Caveman, Viking Women) but there were some eps I recall as being among the most forgettable as well (like this episode and Fu Manchu).


  32. I'm not a medium, I'm a petite says:

    yes, speaking of Star Trek.. I will always think of Glenn Corbett as the original Zephraim Cochran… but we didn’t have any riffs along those lines, at least none that I noticed.


  33. I'm not a medium, I'm a petite says:

    BigAl27: “…something about a mirror”. You may be thinking of Journey to the Far Side of the Sun, a “premake” made for theatrical release a few years before this one. It had a couple of mirror scenes… our hero firsts notices that everything is written mirror image when he sees some medicine bottles in the bathroom mirror and the priting is correct way round, and at the end a chracter throws himself into a mirror.


  34. Sampo says:

    Dan in WI–good catch on the Gizmonics mention. Maybe the very last one!

    Sitting Duck–Good point about Ward E. It definitely entered our consciousness.

    Joey–I calls ’em like I sees ’em. :-) So everybody understands: when I am talking about my impressions, positive or negative, of a given episode, I’m comparing it to other MST3K episodes, not to entertainment in general. Remember: even the most lackluster MST3K episode is still way more entertaining than just about anything else on TV.


  35. Dan in WI says:

    By the way did the pitch to Tom ending host segment remind anybody else of the Gary pitch meetings on Connor Lastowski’s Citation Needed podcast? I’d say Connor’s recurring sketch is an evolution of this host segment.


  36. losingmydignity says:

    “The Time Tunnel! In living color!”
    Yes, bland as all hell, but there are enough solid riffs to keep this in my B category. I rather enjoy this one. I think true appreciation of this ep rests on how you respond to 70’s (and to some extent 60’s) TV references. It’s pretty constant, but only in the host segs does this comic premise get truly tired by the end.

    The film is a mix of 1984 and Planet of the Apes without the monkeyshines. You can see them setting everything up–the TV that watches you (so I guess you just avoid the living room on Terra?), Ward E (reference to the writer Chekhov? and thus another attempt to mislead to viewer with the Soviet possibility). Throw in a dash of the Prisoner too. What on Terra did the writers think they’d do with this premise? When Stryker washes up on the shore at the end, viewers must have been terrified to find he’d come upon yet another corner of mushroom colored blandness. Family campers! I gotta watch the next episode and see if they offer Stryker a hot dog! Incredible. The Fugitive in “Sacramento.” Is there a good hotel I can find? Does it have running water? By the end of the season he settles down with a cocktail waitress in a “garden” apt on the corner of 9th. Reruns of Benson and Pink Lady and Jeff all day and all night while, next door, doppleganger Joike, Timmy, and Cuervo mock the opening of the Crawling Left-Hand…again and again.



  37. I’ve seen part of the movie years ago and only really remember the main character realizing he’s not on Earth anymore because of seeing two moons.


  38. April da Wetpants says:

    Poor Cameron Mitchell.

    I remember being surprised watching “How to marry a millionaire” and seeing his name in the credits. From that and “Carousel” to this and Space Mutiny.

    BTW, I don’t even remember this episode, is that bad?


  39. John R. Ellis says:

    “Goodbye, Chinese Lanterns.”

    I have to wonder…if the pilot -had- gone to series, how would Bettina’s sub-plot have panned out? Re-watching this, I can’t help but feel real sorry for her. Even Joel and the Bots are going easy on her, by the end.


  40. rcfagnan says:

    Maybe it’s Eddie, Timmy, and Htom Sirveaux…


  41. 24hourwideawakenightmare says:

    Balls? I’ll show you balls!

    The notion of being just about to take a bite out of a sandwich when you notice…ewww…

    Boingy banga kabanga!

    Lots of Plymouth Furies on their planet.

    Yeah, might be actually sorta kinda maybe well made – Fugitive meets the Invaders? – and putts along pacewise, but I can think of plenty of bits here that have stuck in my memory over the years.

    Wikipedia terms the fictional conceit of a planet opposite Earth which is hence invisible to us as “Counter-Earth.” Plenty of examples to be had – I remember reading it in crummy SF stories. Some usages are well known – Gor, Judge Dredd, Illuminatis! When you search for it on Google the 1st hit is an analysis of that Gamera movie, too.

    A few years after catching this ep I cracked up when I started watching the Prisoner – never understood the riff about “You’re late, Number 2.”


  42. Rocky Jones says:

    This is one of the three or four MST episodes that I will go out of my way to ACTIVELY avoid. It’s got to be the largest quantity of “nothing” I’ve ever seen packed into one movie. (even the plot of “Starfighters” is more riveting than this pretentious pile of crap.) I don’t know of any riffing moments that even come close to being able to save it, either. For me, this is one of those ninety minute movies that seems to draaaaaaaaag on for nine hours.


  43. fish eye no miko says:

    Re: Tom/Mike Nelson: There was Mike Nelson of Sea Hunt fame, people might think Tom was referring to him.


  44. Bababababababa…

    And that just shot it straight past Pod People.


  45. Tom Carberry says:

    Another observation regarding George Coulouris (the bookseller). While they are familiar with the movie (“Zanadu, stately home of Charles Foster Kane”, “Rosebud”, etc.) I’m guessing we didn’t get any pithy comments about him being Mr. Thatcher because the BBI writing staff apparently didn’t recognize him either. I didn’t the first time I watched the episode. On the second viewing I got that–where have I seen this actor before feeling–and recognizing him got that–oh, the poor guy has sunk to this level to pay the bills. Sad Really.


  46. schippers says:

    #37 – No, I think you’ve got it confused with Star Wars.



  47. dsman71 says:

    This one is considered subpar for the 3rd Season. It is good, but not a classic like the next episode which brought the show to new heights ( Time of the Apes)
    For some reason this just wasnt memorable – call it a lathargic episode that probably would have been a better fit for Season 2..
    In this one – Stranded in Space AKA the Stranger is played by Glenn Corbett who was in William Castle’s classic Homicidal
    In this one Joel seemed kind of submissive toward the Mads in the opening, like a little boy or something. Not that it isnt a bad thing..
    Joels Hair was parted different in this toward the other side of how he had worn it, but he parts it back the way we normally see it with Time of the Apes ..he really grew it out this season for a spell.
    Watch Cave Dwellers and then Manos – check out how much Joel aged from episode 301 to 424…mustve been those wonderful movies he watched..
    Joel’s Hair
    Joel’s Knees
    Glenn Homicial Corbett
    Joel’s aging
    Time for some super duper therapy !! Calgon take me away !! :)


  48. Sharktopus says:

    @ #1, pondoscp:

    “Page two” is actually a reference to radio host Paul Harvey. “And now you know the rest of the story.” My mom listened to him a lot. (I almost typed radio “personality,” then remembered that I was talking about Paul Harvey. That would be like calling Bob Costas a TV “personality.” )

    There are quite a few Season 3 eps I’ve either never seen or barely remember, and this is one of them. As I watched it for probably the first time last night (Thank you, DAP!) my biggest impression is that this movie maybe might just perhaps be some sort of metaphor for communism. *winkwinknudgenudge* Sure, science fiction has a long and respected history of half-disguised moral and political messages, but geez. Why not just hit the audience over the head with a hammer? (And sickle.)

    Not a lot for the Brains to work with here, mostly observational jokes like “Sure are a lot of Chryslers on this planet.” I enjoy that stuff but it doesn’t stick with you very long, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Next time I pop in Stranded In Space, it’ll be like watching it again for the first time. The improv acting exercise – “We’re being bacon!” – gave me a good chuckle, but that might as well have been in a different movie.

    Stray observations:

    – Was everything in America in the early ’70s that banana yellow color, or was that a decision on the filmmakers’ part to create a unconscious blandness for Terra? I’m guessing the former, as the latter is giving them far to much credit.

    – I’d really like to know where they intended to go with this if they’d been picked up as a TV series. Surely it wouldn’t be Stryker concocting failed scheme after failed scheme to get home? Maybe he’d become the leader of an underground conspiracy dedicated to overthrowing “the Perfect Order.” That could actually have been an interesting premise for a TV show.

    – I really don’t want this to sound mean, but I found Cameron Mitchell’s face to be extremely ugly in this. Sort of a Tom Jones after a horrific helmetless motorcycle accident face. I felt genuinely uncomfortable whenever I had to look at him. How does such an unpleasant face get an acting career, even as villains?


  49. MikeK says:

    “I always mix this one up in my mind with “Space Travelers.” Both are such bland names and the astronauts in the other movie are more stranded in space than Stryker is, so…”

    I do this all the time.


  50. monoceros4 says:

    #39: “I have to wonder…if the pilot -had- gone to series, how would Bettina’s sub-plot have panned out? Re-watching this, I can’t help but feel real sorry for her.”

    Indeed? With nothing better to do on a day off I’ve been rewatching Stranded in Space and I think that the movie is strikingly unflattering toward Bettina Cook. I can understand that her character isn’t likely to be too strong-willed, not since she’s been worked over a bit by the “Perfect Order” (Lord, what a name) even before the brainwashing seen at the end of the movie, but jeez, she leads on and then betrays Stryker and Prof. McAuley multiple times at the drop of a hat. There are hints of a romantic obsession but that just makes it worse. “Oh, let me see him again!” “Sorry, Bettina, you can’t.” “Well! time to sell you all out again, I guess.” I suppose that her subplot would have involved her eventual conversion to the resistance, probably along with the discovery of her brother and a few more betrayals. Cook just seems too capricious for such a conversion to be convincing.

    Benedict, for all his ruthlessness, doesn’t come across that competent to me. Even though he’s fanatically convinced that Stryker is “malignant” and an unthinkable menace to the Perfect Order and repeatedly browbeats Dr. Revere for being soft on him, it’s still Benedict who’s in charge of Stryker’s treatment. Keep him permanently drugged or tied up or something, if you’re that sure he’s dangerous, instead of leaving him in charge of a doctor whom you’re inexplicably convinced is a secret traitor. Benedict’s chief weapon seems to be empty threats, as Joel points out in the last host segment.

    The riffing is solid but a bit listless. There are a lot of sarcastic, well-deserved comments on how generic and contrived and TV-moviesque those whole affair is but that’s not exactly memorable stuff. It doesn’t help that Stryker is such a non-entity; MST3K’s at its best when it has actual characters to work with.


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